Habitat Fragmentation

Topics: Habitat fragmentation, Extinction, Habitat destruction Pages: 4 (1059 words) Published: November 17, 2010
It is estimated that over the course of an hour, about 240 acres of natural habitat is destroyed due to growing human populations, with an estimated 80 percent decline in biological diversity due to habitat destruction (Smith et al 906). “Humanity’s Ecological Footprint—the demand people place upon the natural world—has increased to the point where the Earth is unable to keep up in the struggle to regenerate” (Shah). Habitat fragmentation is occurring in all major habitats found throughout the world at various speeds and levels of severity. Habitat fragmentation is detrimental to a species’ sustainability in the given environment and the ecosystems biodiversity, and can oftenly drive species into extinction. Habitats that were continuous at one point have been divided into many isolated sections due to humans clearing the natural vegetation of an area for agriculture, rural development, or urbanization. As a result of habitat fragmentation there is a reduction in the total area of a habitat, the amount of edge increases while the amount of the interior habitat decreases, and there is isolation from each of the habitat fragments, which in turn reduces biodiversity in the remaining areas of the habitat for plants and animals (St-Laurent et al 1282).

Human actions resulting in habitat fragmentation have resulted in a substantial decrease in biodiversity in the affected habitat “Fragmentation and loss of habitat are recognized as the greatest existing threat to biodiversity” (Sole et al 65). Habitat specific species are more likely to go extinct due to the fact that they are less in their ability to endure rapid changes and alterations in their habitats than generalist species (Cagnolo et al 1170). As a result of the sectioned isolated patches of land not as much life can be supported in these smaller sections compared to the previous larger, continuous habitat. For example, the smaller populations of plants due to fragmentation often have a much lower success...
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